What does Biden's record fundraiser say about the upcoming U.S. election?

By Xiong Maoling (Xinhua) 10:05, April 03, 2024

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Xinhua) -- With the support of former Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, U.S. President Joe Biden, who is campaigning for re-election, raised over 25 million dollars in a fundraising event in New York, breaking the record for the highest amount of funds raised in a single political event.

The lowest ticket price for the event was 225 dollars. A donation of 100,000 dollars bought a photo with the three presidents and 250,000 granted access to a reception. For a more exclusive gathering, attendees had to cough up half a million dollars.

Biden's presumptive opponent, former Republican President Donald Trump, paled in comparison with his fundraising efforts. Data shows that Biden's fundraising for this event alone far exceeded the total amount raised by Trump's team in February.

Overall, Trump's "war chest" currently does not match Biden's. As of the end of February, Biden had 155 million dollars in cash on hand, while Trump and his political action committee had less than a third.

Adding to Trump's woes is his involvement in multiple lawsuits, requiring him to pay high legal fees and hefty fines, which puts significant financial pressure on his campaign.

According to Bloomberg, Trump's legal expenses amounted to 51.2 million dollars in 2023. Earlier this year, two courts in New York imposed fines totaling over 400 million dollars on Trump for defamation and financial fraud cases.

However, Trump is not willing to fall behind. According to the Financial Times, Trump's campaign team expects to raise 33 million dollars in a large-scale fundraising event in Florida in early April.

Trump vigorously promoted various products, from sneakers to perfumes, digital trading cards and even the Bible, sparking controversy. Such efforts, which won't earn him much revenue, could be an attempt to win over more voters.

"There is no precedent for this level" of business activity during a presidential campaign, CNBC quoted Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig as saying, though "the trend has been building for many years."

History says raising more money doesn't necessarily win the presidency. In 2016, Trump failed to beat Hillary Clinton in fundraising but won the election.

Currently, Trump still maintains a slight lead in the polls. Data from RealClearPolitics shows that in the crucial swing states of Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia, Trump leads Biden by an average of about 1 percentage points in multiple polls.

The Democratic Party's mobilization of two former presidents to campaign for Biden at this early stage reflects concerns within the party about Biden's lagging poll numbers.

A Wall Street Journal article suggested that scenes where the current president teams up with two former presidents are rare. The gathering of the three indicates that Biden is trying to win re-election in a challenging political environment.

In any case, the 2024 U.S. presidential election is destined to be a spectacle of "raising money" and "burning money."

According to AdImpact, an American advertising tracking company, the 2024 U.S. presidential election could be the most expensive in history. Candidates will collectively spend over 10 billion dollars on political advertising across various platforms.

The Washington Post noted that the 2024 general election promises to be "the longest, most expensive and, perhaps, most divisive presidential race in recent memory."

The huge expenses have sparked dissatisfaction among the American public. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that a considerable number of Americans believe that the current cost of political campaigns is "too high," with over 70 percent of respondents agreeing to limit individual and organizational spending on political campaigns.

Additionally, 85 percent believe that the high cost of political campaigns makes it difficult for qualified individuals to run for public office.

Emily Messner, an independent voter in Virginia, recently told Xinhua that she believes both parties are trapped by moneyed interests. "That's a real problem," she said.

The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, pointed out that a small number of wealthy donors dominate campaign contributions and expenditures in the United States. There is an urgent need to limit campaign finance and increase transparency and effective enforcement of the rules.

(Xinhua reporter Sun Ding also contributed to this report.)

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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